How IoT can stimulate retail growth

From the adoption of IoT within the retail industry, devices such as in-store mobile apps, and checkout-free shopping technology are some of the strategies to improve in-store customer experience

1Nov

It’s common knowledge that e-commerce is booming, and high street retailers are struggling to keep up. With customers increasingly using online stores to search for the best deal, there is a risk that the traditional stores will lose relevance.

Businesses may need to integrate the online experience into the physical retail space, in a way that is engaging, seamless and informative to get shoppers back in stores. IoT may pose as a potential strategy to employ in order to troubleshoot this issue.

When IoT technology is used in the right way, retailers can offer a competitive differentiation. According to HPE Aruba research, early adopters of IoT in the Netherlands are already seeing the benefits: improved business efficiency (75%); customer experience (63%); innovation (70%) and cost savings (56%).

How are they doing this? The fact is that IoT can be deployed in a huge number of ways, from in-store mobile apps to sensor-based, checkout-free shopping, such as the new Amazon Go store.

Getting to know your customer

IoT creates the possibility for data from any electronic device to be anonymously captured and analyzed so that retailers can understand customer preferences better.

If a customer is using a retailer’s website or moving around the store, anonymized versions of this data can be transmitted through the network and analyzed. The more devices that can capture data (from apps, touch screen displays, product barcodes), the more information can be built. Once analyzed, this data helps to build customer profiles and lets businesses better understand and anticipate their customers’ behaviors.

This contextual data can be used to improve the location of in-store product displays; boost the effectiveness of promotions, communications in high-traffic areas and improve point-of-purchase influence. Real-time analytics let retailers align staffing levels, so money is not wasted staffing an empty store and full stores aren’t understaffed at peak times.



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Getting customers into stores

We know customers often have their smartphone in hand with Wi-Fi/data/location turned on, so why not send them personalized digital promotions when they are near your store? Or use digital signage in the shop window to communicate the latest offers and products and services?

IoT technology keeps the in-store experience interesting, immersive and allows retailers to constantly innovate their in-store offering. As an example, Browns East, a retailer in London have plans to undergo a “full transformation” every two to three weeks to cater to the short attention spans of consumers. The technology the store expects to install includes: mobile points of sale; smart mirrors (to request another size of clothing without leaving the changing room); and an app that shares your purchase history and wish lists with staff in store.

Competing with online retailers (or your own website)

Exclusive offers and experiences such as partnerships or limited edition products will help bricks and mortar stores compete with each other, and with what's available online.

Once consumers have set foot in the store retailers can use connected devices to their advantage, arming employees with tablets so they can instantly see what’s in stock or work out how they are tracking against their monthly sales targets. Installing touch-screen displays where customers can look up the location of an item or preview next season’s stocks or upcoming events may increase sales. Additionally, encouraging employees to take payment through connected devices, retail payment apps, can save time and increase productivity.

Embracing IoT technology, can improve the in-store experience instantly, and can become more convenient and interesting for customers and employees alike.

Already in 2018, we have seen the retail industry set out its vision to be disruptive and offer consumers more unique in-store experiences. We’ve been saying this for a few years, but the difference now is that this unique experience can be achieved.

By 2019, 79% of retail organisations will have adopted IoT technology and 77% believe it will transform the industry. Bricks and mortar stores, like Browns East who adopt IoT now, will reap the rewards – and quickly.

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